Most times, presidential primary debates happen, and there’s some general agreement that one or two candidates did well or “won,” in the sense that they spoke coherently and at least somewhat memorably about their case for being elected in a way that seems likely to resonate with known voter preferences. Maybe also there’ll be a “loser,” someone who stumbled over a few answers or got zapped by rival zingers or was ignored by moderators. Then polls come out a few days later, and maybe the winners end up moving a few points up and the losers a few points down.
The paragraph above does not describe Wednesday’s Democratic debate in Las Vegas. Nearly everyone—including, reportedly, Michael Bloomberg’s own campaign staffers—thought he did not just badly, but historically badly. And now the first post-debate primary poll is out, from Morning Consult, and it confirms that impression.
Twenty points down in favorability! And 30 points down with moderate Democrats, the ideological group that was responsible for his pre-debate rise.
The good news for Bloomberg is that there’s not yet any evidence that the rivals who helped filet him changed voters’ impressions of themselves that significantly; Elizabeth Warren went from being 10 points behind him to five points behind, but her favorability didn’t change, and her rise was within the poll’s margin of error. The fallout might not be over, but for now, he’s in third place, which is not drop-out-of-the-race-immediately territory.
The other good news is that, insofar as humans can only perceive time as something that moves in one direction, he’ll never have to experience those two hours onstage ever again!
Support our 2020 coverage
Slate is covering the election issues that matter to you. Support our work with a Slate Plus membership. You’ll also get a suite of great benefits.Join Slate Plus